The Quakertown School Board discussed ways to better prepare its students for new state education requirements.
Thursday night it discussed the Math Acceleration Plan throughout the District. The District is looking to get students better prepared for the switch to the new Pennsylvania Common Core Standards from the current academic system. This is the first year that the District is implementing the Keystone Exams for its students, but the Board was presented with a plan to change math courses from 5th grade to 12th grade to better prepare students for these exams in the future.
The math Keystone Exam focuses on Algebra 1 so the District has developed a plan to begin teaching this course at a younger age and by doing this, hopes to enable students to reach calculus or other college level math courses by their final year of high school.
The District will be looking into creating a “Math 6” course for 5th grade students and from this course they will go on to a “Math 7” course in 6th grade. This "Math 7" course will be divided into two sections, one will be regular math course, while the other a compacted or advanced math course. From the regular math course, the students will go on to take Pre-Algebra in 8th grade and from the compacted math course, students can take either Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 in 8th grade.
The High School changes that the District is looking into making are separated into three different pathways. The first pathway, the Intensive Support Pathway, will have students begin high school by taking Algebra 1A, then move on to taking Algebra 1B, then Algebra 2, and finish high school by taking a Geometry course. Students will need to pass the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam by the end of their junior year or at the end of the course according to the Common Core Standards, so this plan will help students if they do not pass the Keystone Exam the first time, giving them time to re-take it.
The second pathway, the Regular Non-Accelerated Pathway, will have students take Algebra 1, then move on to taking Algebra 2, then Geometry, and move on to taking a Pre-Calculus course or an Introduction to College Math course during their final year.
The third pathway that the Board discussed was an Accelerated Compacted Pathway. This will have students begin high school by taking a Geometry course, then move on to Algebra 2, then Pre-Calculus, and end high school by taking an Advanced Placement Calculus course, Advanced Placement Statistics course, or Calculus 1.
The basis for this Math Acceleration Plan is to help students in the Quakertown School District better prepare themselves for college math courses and help students pass the math portion of the Keystone Exams on the first attempt.